Sara Payne – ‘Victims’ Tsar’ – Sarah’s Law

A trial scheme which allows parents to obtain information about sex offenders could be extended nationwide.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said even the limited experiment had already saved ten youngsters from potential abuse.

Their parents had used the Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Pilot to learn about the past convictions of partners or carers.

The trial started last September following years of pressure for a ‘Sarah’s Law’ on the release of information about paedophiles.

The campaign was inspired by the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne in 2000 by convicted sex offender Roy Whiting.

From today, the pilot, which is being trialled in Warwickshire, will be extended across three more police force areas, Cleveland, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.

Miss Smith said she hoped the scheme would eventually go nationwide if it was deemed to be a success.

So far 79 people have applied for information under the trial scheme. Police sent one man a warning letter after he sent inappropriate text messages to a young girl.

The Home Office’s pilot stops well short of a UK version of Megan’s Law, which gives U.S. citizens the right to know the name and address of any nearby paedophile.

British parents have no right to be told the number of offenders living close to them.

Only those with a child who comes into close contact with an offender are likely to be given information.

Parents can have their requests refused although Home Office officials were unable to say how often this has happened.

The Home Secretary added: ‘Drawing in families and allowing them to take responsibility and share their concerns with the police is a positive way forward.

‘In tackling crime you need people to stand alongside police. And in the police areas where the schemes have been operating I would say we are giving children a better deal.’

Sara Payne, mother of Sarah and the Government’s ‘Victims’ Tsar’, said: ‘I would say we are giving families a better deal by including them in child protection. They should be, and need to be, involved.

‘By next year I hope any problems will have been ironed out. I want to be able to answer anyone who has a downside to the scheme.’

Mrs Payne had campaigned for a UK law much closer to the US system.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”

………Sarah Tofte

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 4:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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